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Greek metrology, Bronze Age  

Robert Schon

During the Bronze Age, people living in the Aegean region began adopting standardized measures. Aegean metrology took numerous forms and included measurements of weight, volume, length, area, and time. Some metrological units are depicted on Linear B (and some earlier Linear A) texts of the Late Bronze Age. In a few cases, archaeological remains, such as weights and scales, provide further insights into Aegean Bronze Age metrology.Ancient weights have been identified in numerous ways, some more reliable than others. A few weights appear in proportional sets or are marked with their unit designation, making their identification straightforward. In other cases, archaeologists rely on context or reasonable deduction (e.g., “What else could they be?”). Certain spool-shaped stones found in Early Bronze Age (c. 2500bce) contexts, most notably at Tiryns, may be weights.1 If so, these would be the earliest confirmed balance weights in the Aegean. Eleven haematite and two similarly hard stone weights were discovered by Valmin in various strata at Malthi, a Bronze Age site in .

Article

Troy  

Peter Pavúk

Major Bronze Age fortified settlement on the West Anatolian coast, south of the Dardanelles, consisting of a citadel and a lower town, changing in size and importance over time. The site, formerly called formerly Hisarlık, has been intermittently excavated for more than a century now, mainly thanks to Heinrich Schliemann’s identification of the site with Homeric Troy. Whereas the Homeric question has become less central over the years, it is clear by now that Troy, thanks to its localisation in the border-zone between Anatolia, the Aegean, and the Balkans, but also thanks to its uninterrupted occupation from c. 2900 bce to the 6th century ce, is an important archaeological site on its own. Troy became a major reference point, with two main cultural peaks: during Troy II/III (c. 2550–2200 bce) and later on during Troy VI Late/VIIa (c. 1400-1180 bce). It must have profited from a fertile surrounding, the trade in raw materials, or its facilitation, and possibly human resources. Situated on the edge of the Near Eastern civilisations, it was still part of the broader Bronze Age world.

Article

Linear A  

Ester Salgarella

Linear A is a Bronze Age (c. 1800–1450 bce) script attested primarily on Crete but also sporadically in the Aegean islands, mainland Greece, and Asia Minor. Typologically it is classified as a logo-syllabary since it consists of signs representing both syllables (syllabograms) and real-world referents (logograms/ideograms). To date, the script, which was used to write the still poorly understood Minoan language, remains undeciphered. Linear A seems to have been used for both administrative and cultic purposes: incised clay documents (tablets, roundels, and sealings) were used in palace administration to record economic transactions, while inscribed carved-stone and metal objects and painted clay vessels have been found in non-administrative contexts, mostly cultic or utilitarian. There is no evidence of Linear A’s use in monumental inscriptions, diplomatic correspondence, historiography, or other forms of literature. Still, Linear A is likely to have been used for writing on perishable material (papyrus or parchment) as well, although no examples have survived. Although the script remains undeciphered, some information—place names, personal names, names for commodities, and terms for various sorts of transaction—can still be gleaned from the available texts. Nevertheless, the nature of our evidence (short formulaic inscriptions with limited syntax), the relatively small number of inscriptions that have survived, and their often poor state of preservation significantly hamper our understanding of the language.

Article

Knossos  

Anthony James Whitley

Knossos is an ancient city in North Central Crete. It was an important political community both in the Bronze Age (when it had a large courtyard structure normally called a palace at its centre) and in historical times (when it remained an important polis down to the Roman conquest). Major excavations of the site began in 1878 and have continued to this day. It retains strong associations both with its excavators (principally Arthur Evans), the ancient myths of Minos and the Minotaur and the idea that it was the centre of a lost ‘Minoan’ civilisation. The city was abandoned around 650 ce after which it lay in the shadow of its larger neighbour, Heraklion.Knossos (in Greek Κνώσος, latinized as Cnossus) was an ancient city in North Central Crete occupied continuously from the earliest Neolithic (c. 7000bce) throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages down to Late Antiquity. It was, in legend, the seat of King .

Article

Biblical Archaeology  

Aren Maeir

Biblical archaeology is defined as the study of the archaeological remains of the peoples, cultures, and periods in which the biblical texts were formed. While in the past biblical archaeology was often seen as an ideologically motivated field of inquiry, currently, a balanced and scientifically advanced approach is common among most practitioners. The large body of research in this field, continuing to the present, provides a broad range of finds, insights, and understanding of the relevant cultures, peoples and periods in which the biblical texts were formed.Biblical archaeology may be defined as the study of the archaeological remains of the regions, cultures, and periods, in which the biblical texts were formed. Modern biblical archaeology does not attempt to prove or disprove the Bible. Rather, archaeological study of the cultures in which the Bible was formed, or which are included in the Bible narratives, can provide a better understanding of the material and intellectual context of the biblical texts. The primary aim, however, is to study the archaeology of these regions, periods, and cultures associated with the Bible, the biblical interface being secondary. Biblical archaeology focuses primary attention on the regions and cultures of the Southern Levant, specifically the region of modern-day Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and southern Syria. Nearby regions such as Egypt, northern Syria, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Cyprus, and the Aegean are within its scope of interest. The main chronological focus of biblical archaeology are the periods in which the actual biblical texts were formed and written down—the Iron Age, Persian period, and Hellenistic period for the Hebrew Bible, about .

Article

Mycenae  

Kim Shelton

Mycenae is a fortified palatial citadel located in the NE Peloponnese of mainland Greece that was occupied primarily during the Late Bronze Age. Its name is used for the Mycenaean culture of the mainland and for the relevant period, also known as Late Helladic. Mycenae was the largest, wealthiest, and probably most important palatial center on the mainland controlling a region surrounding it full of exploited natural and agricultural resources. Excavated almost continuously since the late 19th century, it is known for monumental architecture, the Cyclopean walls, the Lion Gate, and the beehive Tholos tombs, for the production of high-quality materials such as decorative ivories and painted pottery, and as the home of the legendary king Agamemnon.Mycenae occupies a limestone hill, flanked by ravines and low mountains to north and south, situated at the north-east edge of the Peloponnesian plain of Argos. It is uniquely situated to dominate all the area it oversees and exploit upland pastures, lowland fields, and routes to and from the shore approximately eight miles to the south. Mycenae is most commonly recognized as the home of legendary king .

Article

Mycenaean civilization  

Jeremy Rutter

Mycenaean civilization takes its name from the hilltop citadel of Mycenae in the Argolid, celebrated in Homer’s epics as “rich in gold” and the capital of Agamemnon. In 1876, Heinrich Schliemann, fresh from his excavations at Troy, which in his view had established the historical reality of the Greeks’ legendary siege and sack of that city, unearthed five astonishingly rich tombs at Mycenae and claimed them to contain the burials of Agamemnon and his followers, thus inaugurating the study of Greece’s Late Bronze Age (LBA) past. One and a half centuries of subsequent fieldwork have exposed the remains of hundreds of settlements and thousands of tombs characterized by the distinctive material culture termed Mycenaean that flourished for over six centuries (c. 1700–1050 bce). This lengthy duration of the mainland Greek LBA (better known as the Late Helladic [LH] or Mycenaean era) is conventionally subdivided into three major stages of development: pre-palatial or early Mycenaean (LH I–IIB; c.

Article

Linear B  

Dimitri Nakassis

Linear B is a script used to write the Greek language during the palatial period of Mycenaean civilization, c. 1400–1200 bce. It employed 87 syllabic and 143 logographic signs written from left to right. The vast majority of Linear B texts take the form of clay tablets, labels, and sealings that were used by palatial administrators to record diverse transactions. The other major document type is the inscribed stirrup jar, a coarse transport vessel with short texts painted before firing. Major deposits of Linear B texts are located at palatial sites on the Greek mainland and Crete, especially at Pylos and Cnossus. The texts are entirely administrative in nature and are therefore silent on historical events, but they shed light on many aspects of the Late Bronze Age world, especially economy, society, religion, and of course language and writing itself.Linear B is a Late Bronze Age script that was used to write documents in the Greek .

Article

collapse of the Bronze Age Aegean  

Guy D. Middleton

Around 1200 bce, the Mycenaean palace centres of mainland Greece and Crete were destroyed along with, presumably, the states they governed; key aspects of palatial culture that had developed over the preceding two centuries, such as writing and administration, were lost or rejected. Although there was rebuilding at some sites, such as Tiryns, the style was different from the preceding age, which suggests an ideological shift and likely a weakening of central authority. Elsewhere, in Messenia, there was no rebuilding at Pylos palace, and the landscape appears depopulated. Many explanations for the collapse have been proposed, from migration and climate change to plague and shifts in trade; the continued disagreement over what happened and why demonstrates the difficulty of arriving at an unambiguous conclusion from the available evidence. Mycenaean culture continued for more than a century after the collapse, but the features associated with palaces and kings disappeared.The collapse.

Article

ships, Bronze Age  

Shelley Wachsmann

During the Bronze Age, ships and seafaring capabilities transformed the Mediterranean and Red Seas from insurmountable barriers to highways over which cultures communicated for a variety of reasons. Watercraft were essential to the development of maritime cultures in the Bronze Age. Our knowledge of these vessels derives primarily from contemporaneous iconography, but also from remains of the actual vessels and from texts. Each culture developed ships and boats that best suited their individual needs based on the availability of materials and local traditions.Ships and boats played a pivotal role in the Bronze Age Mediterranean, both on inland waterways and at sea. Virtually everything made or used by humans travelled in some way by watercraft, which allowed cultures to interact over vast distances through exploration, trade, warfare, piracy, and migration. Acquiring copper and tin was of primary importance, and in the late 2nd millennium bce the shape of some ingots, termed “oxhide ingots,” was particularly suited for ship transportation. Militarily, ships could be used as mobile fighting platforms during battles, but more commonly they served for coastal raiding and as naval transports for men and supplies. It is impossible to understand the Mediterranean Bronze Age world without taking into consideration the influence of .